Psychology Undergraduates Volunteer in Sri Lanka
24 August 2015
Third year Undergraduates take part in a mental health placement in Sri Lanka.
Lena Berger, Aliya Biggs, Megan Barnett, Louise Sweeney and Oliver Metcalfe took part in a 5 week Psychology placement in Sri Lanka this summer. The week consisted of numerous workshops, such as how to work with mentally ill patients and how to teach English as a foreign language and involved working in the National Institute of Mental Health, the largest mental health facility in Sri Lanka.
It fell to the volunteers to provide the only psychological therapy that these patients were likely to receive, and the type of this therapy varied depending on the ward they were placed in. For those patients on the acute wards and learning disability unit, therapy focused around art and handicrafts, improving gross and fine motor skills through creativity, and social skills from working in a group. Those in occupational therapy wards were more physically able, so activities focused more around physical games, singing and dancing. For the patients in the women’s geriatrics ward, activities were very different, focusing more on sensory stimulation, and trying to engage the patient in interactions
Aliya Biggs said “Being allowed to work in this facility, and planning and implementing our own therapy was a great privilege. This type of experience could never be found in the UK, and I believe that the work of SLV here really does make a great difference to the patients’ lives.”
Louise Sweeney added “My 5 weeks in Sri Lanka was a unique opportunity to gain experience of mental health in a completely different setting as well as the flexibility to run a range of sessions with special needs and youth teaching too. I learnt skills of lesson planning and the ability to use initiative and enthusiasm to run the most effective therapeutic activities. It's inspired me to work in international health and provided me with invaluable experience.”